Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Robert H. Tykot, Ph.D.
Nancy White, Ph.D.
Thomas Pluckhahn, Ph.D.
African American, Archaeology, Headstone, Landscape, Structural Violence
Mortuary research in historical archaeology has always acknowledged the cultural and symbolic links between cemeteries and the people who created them. Studies across multiple disciplines focus on what data can be gained about past societies from historical cemeteries, and they tend to ascribe to an understanding of the ‘cemetery-as-model.’ This idea of the local burial ground as a mirror of the community that formed it seems reasonable, even logical, but few of these studies have taken the time to compare the historical context of the societies in question to the results of their cemetery analyses. The assumption of the cemetery as a social mirror has continued to be implemented in research despite its apparent untested nature.
Historical archaeology as a discipline that embraces both material culture and documentary evidence is uniquely suited to test this cemetery-as-model premise. In this thesis I set out to determine the representative qualities of the community cemetery by investigating historical Millville and Greenwood cemeteries in Panama City, Florida. To do this I focused on the social phenomenon that was racial segregation, employing a combined Marxian-landscape approach to understand the way that segregation effected both social and spatial relationships as a manifestation of the ideology of racism. By treating headstones as both artifact and text and cross-referencing these data with various historical documents, I was able to assess the distribution of race on the landscape of each cemetery. I then used the spatial data associated with the headstones to map the racial data onto the landscape of the cemetery in order to assess the representation of segregation in the burial grounds.
I found that both Millville and Greenwood cemeteries exhibited what I refer to as external, or inter-cemetery segregation, rather than internal, or intra-cemetery segregation. This type of segregation does not correspond with the way this form of racial injustice existed in the history of Panama City. I explain this discrepancy as a form of structural violence, the effect of those in power reflecting the ideology of racism and legitimizing white cultural hegemony through the policies of these municipal cemeteries. These results suggest that the reflexive nature of the relationship between burial grounds and their communities is too complex to default to assumptions of cemetery-as-model without careful consideration of the historical context on a case-by-case basis.
Scholar Commons Citation
Putman, Ethan David Mauldin, "An Ideology of Racism: Community Representation, Segregation, and the Historical Cemeteries of Panama City, Florida" (2022). USF Tampa Graduate Theses and Dissertations.